Speaking on the home turf of the Reddy brothers, who are facing a number of charges including illegal iron-ore mining, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday accused the Congress of consistently defaming Bellary by projecting the region as “inhabited by robbers and thieves” while ignoring the good governance witnessed during the Vijayanagara empire between the 14th and 17th centuries.
The Prime Minister also called the Congress anti-Dalit, anti-Muslim, anti-OBC and anti-women, and said the BJP has done more for these communities despite being tagged a “Bania and Brahmin” party.
He cited the examples of the Congress failing to make Dalit leader Mallikarjun Kharge the chief minister of Karnataka in 2013 and the BJP’s role in making Ram Nath Kovind the President of India as examples of the BJP’s greater acknowledgement of the community.
The Prime Minister cited himself as an example of the scope given to OBCs by the BJP and cited A P J Abdul Kalam being the president and Nirmala Sitharaman the defence minister as examples of the BJP being “all encompassing”.
The rally also showcased the nine assembly candidates from the region, including Gali Somashekhar Reddy, brother of former BJP minister G Janardhan Reddy who is accused of running an illegal iron ore mining mafia in Bellary when the party was in power in the state.
The other candidates on the dais with the Prime Minister were B Sreeramulu, a BJP MP and close aide of Janardhan Reddy, and his nephew T H Suresh Babu, who is also accused of involvement in illegal mining by the CBI.
Janardhan Reddy was not present since he is barred from entering the region by the Supreme Court on account of the charges of allegedly selling iron ore worth over Rs 16,000 crore that was said to have been stolen from mines around Bellary between 2008-2011.
Addressing a massive gathering, Modi said, “The Congress has not lost any opportunity to defame this former region of Vijayanagara for its own political ends. They have projected Bellary to the world and the country as a region inhabited by robbers and thieves. This is a question of the pride of Bellary… You must not allow those who are defaming Bellary to remain in power.’’
The Prime Minister said that his government had commemorated the contributions of the Vijayanagara empire by featuring images from Hampi, the historical site, on new Rs 50 currency notes.
The Prime Minister said the potential of Bellary in terms of tourism and its contribution to “Brand Karnataka’’ had not been exploited by the Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah.
“The government in Karnataka is a ‘Sidda rupaiah’ government. This ‘Sidda rupaiah’ government has pushed Karnataka into the depths of debt. While people are wallowing in debt, the personal wealth of Congress ministers have been growing. The people of Bellary and the people of Karnataka want an account of all the funds from the ‘Sidda rupaiah’ government,’’ Modi said.
The Prime Minister accused the Congress of conducting politics in the name of Dalits and Muslims, and later abandoning them. “They do politics in the name of scheduled castes and Muslims. Last time, they went around saying (Mallikarjun) Kharge (a Dalit) will be the chief minister but after the polls they made someone else the chief minister,’’ he said.
“When we got the opportunity to elect the president this time, we made a Dalit, a poor man, the President. This has hassled the Congress and all those opposed to us and those who call us a Bania and Brahmin party because an OBC tea seller became the PM and a Dalit man the President,’’ Modi said amid loud cheers from the packed ground.